How to Prepare Plumbing for Winter for Your Vacant House

  • Don Ghanem
  • 2 ago
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Know what’s worse than a major home maintenance disaster? How about several disasters happening at once? Winter brings with it a litany of challenges for the average homeowner. Key among them is the possibility that your pipes might freeze over. Freezing leads to cracking and thereafter disaster galore. A 1/8-inch crack in your piping can spew about 250 gallons of water a day. Left unchecked, this amount of water can cause flooding, mold and even structural damage to your home.  Below we go over a few tips on how to keep pipes from freezing in a vacant house during winter.

Cut Off the Main Supply


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The main water valve is located outside the house. Locate it and turn off the supply to the main house. It is instructive to note that some homes are supplied with water from a well. If this is the case, switch off the power breaker to the pump system.

Drain Water Supply Lines

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The water supply lines to the house taps need to be drained out. You should follow this up by draining out your water storage tanks. Additionally, you should dry the components of the water system such as filtering systems and water softening systems.

Drain the Water Heater

The water heater in the main house should be drained into a bucket. But before pouring out this water, make sure to turn off the water heater. If it is a gas water heater, the temperature control should be switched off and the valve that supplies gas closed. For an electric water heater, only turn off the power source at the power breaker. Now drain out all the water. This is how to keep pipes from freezing in a vacant house.

Blow Out Water Supply Lines

Blowing out the water supply lines might appear like an overkill. However, failing to do so may cause any residual water in the system to freeze. This could negate all efforts that you have taken to winterize your home. Blowing out the water supply lines can be done using an air compressor. This method is effective and can come in handy if you choose to go the DIY way. Nonetheless, you can hire a professional plumber to clear up the water supply lines for you.

Turn on The Heat

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Most people would find it logical to turn off the heat since they won’t be using it when they are gone.  It also doesn’t hurt that they will be saving on their energy bills. However, this might be imprudent. Keeping the heat on ensures that any costs of repairing frozen pipes are eliminated.

Similarly, it ensures that additional costs such as using anti-freeze in toilet bowls are not incurred. In the same vein, keeping the heat on ensures that water in the toilet bowl does not freeze and crack the china, or that the temperature does not fall so low that it affects the integrity of the wall paint.

Winterizing a home is the prudent thing to do when leaving a house vacant for an extended period. It might be costly, but it is worthwhile in the long run.

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